What have I learned, really, after over a decade of study around the evolution of commemorative and heritage practices and rituals through time? What do I have to say about their role reflecting/projecting social consensus and community cohesion, especially in relation to places of conflict? Well, I now see contemporary public art interventions, community projects, and public space activism as techno-social developments contingent to the evolution of the media, and in connection to great shifts in the character of the public sphere and so, inevitably, in the nature of community itself. That is to say: great shifts in the nature and texture of human connections and in our ability to fundamentally conceive of ourselves as parts of a greater whole, whether this is national, ethnic, or of any other sort (see my "Notes on Participation", 2016). Tamera, a Peace Research and Education Centre / Healing Biotope offers a most relevant and astonishing revelation: a community cannot survive without rituals, but neither can a community that has no higher goal than community itself. A greater purpose is needed, a deeper well needs to be tapped. We must look to a higher and nobler purpose, if we are to meaningfully recover a commons. If we are to exit the age of separation.
This exposition investigates ways to digitally communicate a series of human devotional exchanges in public space, between Stephanos Stephanides and Chrystalleni Loizidou.
Since 2012, Chrystalleni (b. 1983), a digital humanities and participatory art scholar interested in memory and the commons, keeps trying to find her way through the life-work of Stephanos (b. 1949) known for his Memory Fiction, poetry, and his internationally lauded documentary films of Mother Kali rituals performed by a community with a heritage of indentured labour. This experiment, its methodology emergent through an itinerant participatory art project of talking circles in public parks and squares that started taking place in 2016, contemplates the significance of memory rituals for community building and community survival, and documents the authors' process of discovering and sharing this understanding through public actions in a variety of media.
This multimedia exposition will include:
- Audiovisual material of Chrystalleni releasing an Aphrodite stone from Cyprus, to Yemanja in Guanabara Bay, Rio de Janeiro, in 2016
- AV of Stephanos in a presentation, explaining how the moment of Goddess Kali's arrival during the festival in Guyana in 1988 couldn't be technologically captured, at a Re Aphrodite participatory art event in Pafos 2017
- AV of Stephanos, in a private explanation / initiation into the function of specific talismans at the Nicosia Municipal Gardens, in 2016.
- Embedded videos of Stephanos' documentary "Kali in the Americas (2004)," a sequel to Hail Mother Kali.
- AV documentation from a series of public devotional exchanges between Chrystalleni and Stephanos in the Nicosia Municipal Gardens in Nicosia, in 2016, part of Re Aphrodite's "la colcha"
- Documentation from "How To Chant for a Thin Place", a symposium organised in honour of Stephanos at the Nicosia Municipal Garden's Fytorio Art Centre, 2018
- Extracts of Memory Fiction written by Stephanos, in relation to his experience with Mother Kali, previously published in Chrystalleni's "Words of Transition" (artistic edited volume) and a number of academic journals.
- Documentation from Chrystalleni's curatorial projects relating to ritual (Re Aphrodite, Kral, Eimaste)
- Bits of Correspondence, reflections and poems, contextualising the audiovisual material.
- Review of relevant literature, academic and other.
- Conclusion, what has been learned, next steps.